SHOPPERS are able to refill their own containers with a range of goods as part of a trial by supermarket giant Waitrose.

A dedicated refillable zone, dubbed the UK's first supermarket frozen ‘pick and mix’ and first borrow-a-box scheme, are among a series of ideas being looked at in a unique test from the firm, which claims it has the potential to save thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging.

The test is designed to help determine how customers might be prepared to shop differently in the future and has seen hundreds of products made available without plastic packaging at the Waitrose in Botley Road, Oxford, in a concept similar to that already employed by zero-packaging shops such as Lesser Litter, in Taunton.

The test, which will be branded strongly with ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ across the shop to maximise awareness, will run for a period of 11 weeks, until August 18, as the supermarket seeks as much feedback as possible.

It is not set to be rolled out at the chain's store in Wellington, yet.

A feedback survey will also be available on its website,, and #WaitroseUnpacked will feature on Twitter and Instagram.

Packaged equivalents of the products will remain in their usual areas to create an effective test.

For example, given the choice between buying packaged or unpackaged fruit and vegetables, which one do customers go for.

‘Unpacked’ concepts include:

  • Produce unpacked - 160 loose fruit and vegetable products will be available at the store - the most loose fruit and vegetable lines offered by any national supermarket.
  • Frozen pick and mix - Frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple and raspberries are packaging free and will be available as pick and mix.
  • Plastic removed from flowers and plants - Plastic wrap has been removed from all flowers and indoor plants and replaced with 100% recyclable and 100% PEFC certified craft paper.
  • Detergent and washing up liquid refillables - Waitrose & Partners is the first supermarket to partner with Ecover and provide an automatic detergent and washing up liquid dispenser where customers will be able to refill their reusable Ecover containers.
  • Wine and beer refillables - Four different wines and four different beers available on tap to take home in reusable bottles to cut down on the use of glass bottles.
  • Coffee refills - Customers can grind one of four coffees in store to take home in a reusable container to reduce glass and plastic packaging.
  • Essential refillables - 28 products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and seeds have been taken out of packaging and will be available through dispensers
  • Borrow-a-box scheme - In a UK first, shoppers can borrow-a-box from store to shop with and then take home before returning on their next visit.


Lesser Litter store opens in Taunton to take on plastics

Tor Harris, from Waitrose & Partners, said: “We are determined to build on the work we’ve already done to reduce packaging - and this test will take our efforts to a whole new level as we help the growing number of customers who want to shop in a more sustainable way.

“This test has huge potential to shape how people might shop with us in the future so it will be fascinating to see which concepts our customers have an appetite for.

"We know we’re not perfect and have more to do, but we believe this is an innovative way to achieve something different.”

Somerset County Gazette:

LEADING THE WAY: Lesser Litter in Taunton